Two days from now, the world will serenade love with entwined hearts, champagne flutes and red roses. But, for me, love is not only about pleasure, it’s also about pain… It’s not just about meetings, it’s about partings too.
Every love story doesn’t have to have a happily-ever- after ending, some could end with they-lived-unhappily-thereafter. Cut to 1951… The mahurat shot of Baazi, was being taken with a song, Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana de… The voice was memserising and the film’s director Guru Dutt, was memserised. Thereafter, Geeta Roy’s blue Desota was often parked outside his modest Matunga residence. Inside, Bollywood’s top playback singer would occasionally sing for his family.
Two suitors Guru Dutt’s favourite was the Bengali song, Tumi jodi bolo bhalo basha dite jano na… (If you tell me you don’t how to give love) with which their courtship had begun. Geeta gave her love, not just to Guru Dutt but another Bengali boy who had her family’s approval. For two years Guru Dutt waited for her to make up her mind, then, one day, dragged her to the Haji Malang shrine and asked her to choose. She chose him and after three years, on May 26, 1953, they married.
Mr and Mrs Dutt didn’t live happily. Fights were frequent. Guru Dutt was still a struggling filmmaker, his wife a star singer, and media speculation was rife that he’d married her for her money. Their house was always crowded with friends who dropped in for meals and stayed on while her introverted husband escaped to the farmhouse in Lonavala or immersed himself in work.
Baazi, Jaal, Aar Paar, Mr & Mrs 55,CID.. with each film Guru Dutt’s popularity grew and so did the fights. To appease her, he started Gauri, the story of a sculptor and his muse, with himself and Geeta in the lead. But after few reels were canned, Geeta refused to continue. The film was shelved, Guru Dutt lost Rs 40,000… Guru Dutt hit the bottle, so did Geeta. She continued to sing for him, but stopped accepting outside offers. Asha Bhosle replaced her on the charts, along with ‘didi’ Lata.. And Geeta was lost. In 1961, she left home, Guru Dutt attempted suicide. He was saved, she returned home.
The following year their daughter, Neena, was born… The fights continued and in 1963, he shifted to an apartment in Peddar Road while she moved back to her maternal home with the children, Arun, Tarun and Neena. On October 9, 1964, they had their last fight. Asha Bhosle in a DD documentary admitted that around midnight he called to enquire if Geeta was with her. She wasn’t.
The following morning his physician came for the usual 8 am check-up. The door was locked. At 10 am, Geeta ordered for it to be broken open. That previous night she’d had a premonition that something was wrong and had wanted to drive down to his apartment. Her mother pointed out it was very late. When she arrived the next morning, it was too late.
Guru Dutt’s death broke Geeta’s heart. She suffered a nervous breakdown. Bereft and broke, she started singing again even with TB and a damaged liver.She survived a major surgery, but had a relapse a few months later. On July 20, 1972, she coughed up blood and the mesmerising voice was silenced forever.Flashback to 1949 . Meena Kumari, leafing through a magazine, sees a picture and is mesmerised. She has found the man of her dreams!
Kamal Amrohi signs her to play Anarkali but on her way back from Mahabaleshwar, she has an accident, loses a finger and is in Pune’s Sasoon Hospital for three months. He visits her every weekend, writes Meri Anarkali… on her wrist but the film is not made. Salim, however, marries his Anarkali on February 15, 1952.
Mr and Mrs Amrohi don’t live happily. Fights start, over money and ego clashes. Twelve years later, she leaves home to shoot for Chitralekha and never returns. The break-up destroyed Meena Kumari. She hit the bottle and damaged her liver. The doctors gave her six months to live. Sunil and Nargis Dutt urged her to complete Pakeezah that had ground to a halt with her exit.
A meeting was set up with her estranged husband. No apologies were made, both just wept copiously. Kamal sahab asked her if she was willing to complete his film. She was, if he promised to make her look as beautiful as she was before.
On March 16, 1969, 12 years and 12 days after she had left, Meena Kumari returned to the sets of Pakeezah. When she saw the first trial, she was dazed. She looked stunning! On February 20, 1972, Pakeezah opened. On March 31, Meena Kumari passed away. Twenty-one years later, on February 11, Kamal Amrohi was buried next to her
On Tuesday, February 14, many love songs will be played but the one I will replay in my mind is the one from Pakeezah. Chalte chalte, chalte chalet, yunhi koi mil gaya tha... Sare raah chalte chalte…